Tips for Better Communication with People with Hearing Loss

When you have family members, friends and colleagues who have hearing loss, you can make a few simple adjustments in how you communicate with them that can make things run much more smoothly than they otherwise would. Whether you suffer from hearing loss or are speaking to someone who does, conversations require a lot of focus, energy and patience. Focusing on hearing can be tiring, and people have an even more difficult time when they are tired, sick, anxious or in a bad mood.

Hearing aids are beneficial in many situations. However, there are some instances where hearing aids alone cannot provide enough support to a listener. In those situations, good communication skills can help the person with hearing loss be more successful in hearing. Remember, communication involves at least two individuals: a talker who sends the message, and a listener who receives the message. These simple tips can improve communication with your friends, family and co-workers who experience hearing loss.

Get their attention

Gain the listener’s attention before you begin speaking. One way to do this is to say the listener’s name before speaking to them. If the person with hearing loss hears better from one ear, practice moving to that side of the person. If consensual, consider touching the listener’s hand, arm or shoulder lightly to gain attention. These simple gestures will prepare the individual with hearing loss to listen and not miss the first part of the conversation.

Maintain eye contact

Face the person who has the hearing loss. Make eye contact. Your facial expressions and body language add vital information to the message being conveyed. For example, you can “see” a person’s mood and energy by watching facial expressions or body language.

Keep your face unblocked

Most listeners depend on lip reading and facial expressions to understand conversations more completely. Be sure not to cover your face and avoid exaggerated facial expressions that may distort your mouth and impede the listener’s ability to lip-read.

Speak naturally

Speak distinctly, but without exaggeration. You do not need to shout. Shouting actually distorts the words. Try not to mumble, as this is very hard to understand, even for people with normal hearing. Speak at an even rate. Pauses rather than slow speech to give the person time to process what you are saying. Cue them in when you are about to change the subject.

Rephrase rather than repeat

If the listener has difficulty understanding something you said, repeat it once. If they are still having difficulty find a different way of saying it. Use a synonym to convey your message. For example: “I am going to the grocery store.” Repeat once and then rephrase. “I am going to the supermarket.” If the listener did not understand the words the first time, it’s likely they will not understand the second time. Another option is to ask what the person did not understand and just repeat that phrase or word.

Reduce background noise

When having a conversation, whether during a dinner party or one-on-one over coffee, try to reduce background noises in the space. Turn off the radio or television. Move to a quiet space away from the noise source. When going to a restaurant request a table away from the kitchen, server stations or large parties.

Keep it bright

A person with hearing loss can lip read to assist in hearing so light on your face is important. When in a public place or other social gathering, sit where there is good lighting so that your face can be viewed easily. Avoid sitting with strong lighting coming from behind, such as through a window, as that will cause difficulty looking into the bright light.

Write it out

Bring a pen and paper with you so you can write things out if you need to. For a more technically advanced way of doing this there are apps that can be downloaded to your smart phone that can allow you to speak into your device and have your words show up on the screen for the person with hearing loss to read. The use of texting is also an efficient use to supplement communication.

Visit Us at Gulf Gate Hearing Aid Center

Are you struggling with speech recognition in your life? Is a loved one frequently asking you to repeat yourself? It could be hearing loss. To determine whether a hearing loss is present, contact us at Gulf Gate Hearing Aid Center for a hearing test. We provide comprehensive hearing health services and look forward to helping you access the sounds of your life!